2012 Yamaha VX Deluxe Review

Meet Miss Popularity

Story by Jeff Hemmel, Photography by Yamaha, Feb. 15, 2012
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Boats, in general, are considered female, hence the Miss portion of that subtitle. The popularity comment, however, should be obvious by now. Year in and year out, Yamaha’s VX Deluxe has finished as one of the absolute best sellers in the personal watercraft industry.

How did this affordable, introductory craft become so popular? It’s simple. Offer quality, performance, and a smooth ride, toss in a healthy dose of fuel efficiency at a time when gas prices have soared, and you’ve got a winner.

Winning Combination

2012 Yamaha VX Deluxe Front Right

Once upon a time in PWC history industry pundits noted that whichever company was first to come out with an affordable four-stroke would have a huge hit on their hands. That company was Yamaha, but what made the VX Deluxe such a hit wasn’t that it was the first, it’s that it was simply such a great watercraft.

For instance, the hull is a pleasing mix of newcomer-friendly and experienced-rider fun. For the former it’s incredibly stable and predictable, with an ability to handle the conditions if they deteriorate or venture into the ocean if you desire. Like all Yamahas, it holds its line in confused waters, rather than get tossed around or begin to hunt. The ride may not always be the softest, but it’s arguably the most solid. For the latter, however, this same hull can also handle. Carve it into a corner and it responds with precision manners, slicing through the water like a far more performance-oriented craft.

A look below the waterline tells the story. Yamaha calls this a progressive, “stepper draft” V, meaning it boasts chop-busting angle in the bow and softens to a stability-enhancing, shallower angle at the transom. Slightly rounded chines enhance the boat’s lean-in manners, and aft sponsons help keep the boat hooked up through the turns.

2012 Yamaha VX Deluxe Left Blue

Want more? Try maneuvering it in reverse. Sure I’d like to see the lever itself relocated to the craft’s port side in order to still comfortably use the throttle, but the response itself is top-notch. That makes for confidence-inspiring control at slow speeds, like when the crowd is watching at that waterside restaurant or a line is waiting at the launch ramp.

The other portion of that winning combination is the VX Deluxe’s engine. Horsepower is no longer measured in the PWC world, but it’s no big secret that the VX’s 1052cc, 20-valve, MR-1 four-cylinder engine churns out about slightly less than the competition (about 110hp). That may give the impression the craft is underpowered, but in reality it’s right on par with other offerings. Top speed is typically just shy of 54 mph, depending on conditions and load. There’s also good low-end acceleration (three seconds from 0-30 mph), which is enough for towing duties. That engine is also ultra-reliable and fuel-efficient. Expect to burn less than four gallons-per-hour cruising at 35 mph, and require only normal, 87-octane pump gas. Over the course of a season, that can be a significant savings in your fuel bill.

2012 Yamaha VX Deluxe Right

Beyond Power and Performance

2012 Yamaha VX Deluxe Seat

As to what makes the craft Deluxe, several changes debut for 2012, most of which acknowledge the fact that the craft no longer appeals to just an introductory crowd. The seat is now “cut-and-sew,” meaning it fits the saddle’s contours better and gives a more finished appearance. The upper deck is also now an attractive metallic finish. The Deluxe also gets a redesigned boarding step to complement its already spacious rear deck.

Returning features include the familiar remote transmitter, an automotive-style keyfob that can be used to activate a secure mode that prevents starting, as well as activate a low RPM mode to save fuel or tame the craft for use by novice riders. You’ll also find handy cupholders in the glovebox, a tow hook for watersports, dual mirrors that actually provide a view of the action behind, and a multi-function instrument display. Storage and fuel capacity are also right on target at 15.1 and 15.9 gallons respectively.

2012 Yamaha VX Deluxe Left Red

Yamaha admits it took steps to make the VX Deluxe more attractive for 2012. The core mission of this watercraft, however, remains simple. “The main feature a watercraft offers is fun,” says Product Manager Scott Watkins. “We can’t forget that.”

Yamaha hasn’t. And if you don’t believe me, just check out Miss Popularity.

2012 Yamaha VX Deluxe Specs
Length 128.7 inches
Beam 46.1 inches
Curb Weight 745 lbs
Engine Four-cylinder DOHC EFI
Displacement 1,052 cc
Bore and Stroke 76mm x 58mm
Compression Ratio 11.4:1
Rated Horsepower 110 (Estimated)
Fuel Capacity 15.9 gal.
Combined Stowage Capacity 15.1 gal.
Colors Deep Blue/Crimson Red Metallic
Price $9,299

Related Reading
2011 Yamaha VX Deluxe Review
2012 Yamaha VX Sport Review
2012 Kawasaki STX-15F Review
2011 Sea-Doo GTI 130 Review


Jeff Hemmel
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